The confirmation came on a voice vote before 11 p.m. despite opposition from Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., who expressed concerns over Cellucci's support for such social issues as abortion and homosexuality.
Helms asked for and received a written statement from Cellucci in which the Republican governor said his "personal views will not be imposed on the president's agenda."
Helms said his opposition was based on reports on Cellucci's tenure as governor, "reports that, quite frankly, have raised my eyebrows as have his positions on the sanctity of human life, parental rights and the defense of traditional family values."
Helms said Cellucci's views not only were "out of sync" with his own, but also with those of the president.
Cellucci said Friday that he had watched C-SPAN to learn whether the Senate had confirmed his nomination.
"I got a call from Sen. [Ted] Kennedy around 10:30 p.m. He said that it should be coming up soon. I had been flipping between the Red Sox game and other sporting events over to C-SPAN to watch. ... I was very pleased. ..."
Thursday, liberal Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Vermont, chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, alleged that Helms was blocking Cellucci's posting as revenge against Democrats who grilled John Bolton, a nominee for undersecretary of state who is popular with conservatives.
Several conservative groups, urging Helms to reject the Cellucci nomination, had charged that Cellucci's sex-education programs in schools promoted a pro-homosexual agenda.
Despite his opposition, Helms said he would not block Cellucci's nomination from going before the full Senate out of respect for President Bush, who had urged the confirmation so that Cellucci could accompany the president next Friday to the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City.
As ambassador, Cellucci would be involved in such issues as trade and the environment but not with social issues.
It was not immediately determined when Cellucci would be sworn in. When he is, Lt. Gov. Jane Swift would be the state's first female governor. She is expecting to give birth to twins in June.
Copyright 2001 by United Press International. All rights reserved.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.